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The Sabbats

The Witches' Sabbath (1797-1798) by Francisco de Goya.  

Sabbats in History and Mythology /  Samhain (October 31st)  /  Yule (December 21st)  /  Imbolc (February 2nd)  /  Ostara (March 21st)  /  Beltane (April 30th)  /  Litha (June 21st)  /  Lughnasadh (August 1st)  /  Mabon (September 21st)

Written and compiled by George Knowles.

“And the Goddess told us”  

Whenever ye have need of anything

once in the month and better it be when the moon is full,

then shall ye assemble in some secret place

and adore the spirit of me,

who am Queen of all witches.


There shall ye assemble

ye who are fain to learn all sorcery

yet have not won its deepest secrets,

to these will I teach all things that are as yet unknown.


And ye shall be free from slavery

and as a sign that ye be truly free,

you shall be naked in your rites

and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love,

all in my praise.


For mine is the ecstasy of the spirit

and mine also is joy on earth

for my law is love unto all beings.


(See Charge of the Goddess - by Doreen Valiente)

Wicca Witchcraft is not just about casting spells and working magic.  Wicca is also a wonderful life living religion, a continuous celebration of all aspects of life.  In all, Wiccans celebrate 21 festivals (Rituals) each year.  These are broken down into eight main festivals called “Sabbats” marking the suns annual cycle and that of life and nature.  The other thirteen festivals are Full Moon celebrations called “Esbats”, at which times they gather together to honour the Goddess and God.


Sabbats are the eight main festivals celebrated by witches; they are solar rituals marking the points of the sun's yearly cycle and that of life and nature.  Traditionally they are grouped into two categories with four Greater Sabbats and four Lesser Sabbats.  The four Greater Sabbats are those associated with agriculture and the bearing cycles of animals, thus their dates my vary slightly from year to year.  Known by a variety of names the four Greater Sabbats are: 

Imbolc - (February 2nd) also known as:  Oimelc / Candlemas 

Beltane  - (April 30th)  also known as:  Roodmas / May Eve / Walpurgis Night 

Lughnasadh  - (August 1st) also known as:  Lammas 

Samhain  - (October 31st) also known as:  Hallowmas / Halloween 

The four Lesser Sabbats contain the Solstices and Equinoxes representing the astronomical beginnings of the seasons.  their dates may vary by a day or two each year as they depend upon the sun’s entry into the zodiacal signs of:  Aries (Spring), Cancer (Summer), Libra (Autumn) and Capricorn (Winter).  The four Lesser Sabbats are: 

Ostara  - (March 21st)  also known as:  The  Spring Equinox 

Litha  - (June 21st) also known as:  The Summer Solstice 

Mabon  - (September 21st) also known as:  The Autumn Equinox 

Yule  - (December 21st)  also known as:  The Winter Solstice

The Mythology of the Sabbats

The rituals of the Sabbats are an enactment of the myths that surround the relationship of the Goddess and God, and the effects this has on life and nature as the year unfolds. Stories differ slightly from tradition to tradition, but the most common myth begins when the Goddess descends into the Underworld (see the "Descent of the Goddess") in search of the slain God, for she would solve all mysteries, even the mystery of death. They meet, exchange mysteries, make love and became one. From their union came the birth of the Sun God at Yule. Of old the original beginning of the Celtic new year started with Samhain in October:


October 31st - also known as: Hallowmas / Halloween / November Eve / Feast of the Dead / Feast of Apples / All Hallows Eve:

Samhain celebrates the “Feast of the Dead” a farewell celebration to the God, who as “Lord of the Harvest” and then “King of the Hunt” sacrificed himself at the time when the earths bounty was depleted and his animals were being slaughtered to provide sustenance throughout the coming winter months. The Goddess begins her descent into the underworld in search of the God.


December 21st - also know as: The Winter Solstice:

Yule celebrates the rebirth of the Sun God, born of the Goddess after her return from the Underworld. Yule is the time of greatest darkness and has the shortest days of the year. Fires and candles are lit to welcome the return of the Sun Gods light, while the Goddess rests after delivery and the hardships of her winter in labor.


February 2nd - also known as: Oimelc / Candlemas / Lupercalia / Feast of Torches / Feast of Pan / Snowdrop Festival / Feast of the Waxing Light / Brigid’s Day:

Imbolc marks the recovery of the Goddess as she sleeps on peacefully after the birth the Sun God. It acknowledges the maturity of the Sun God as he grows in strength to become the new light of the year. After the shut down life of winter hibernation, his light purifies the earth and although the God is still young, he is lusty, his power can be felt in the lengthening of the days. As his warmth fertilizes the earth, it causes seeds to germinate and spout as the earliest beginnings of spring appear.


March 21st - also known as: Spring Equinox /Springs Rites of Spring / Eostra’s Day:

Ostara celebrates the waking of the Goddess after her rest. Warmed by the strengthening light of the Sun, she wakes bursting forth from her sleep and blankets the earth with fertility. The first true days of spring begin as days and nights become equal, and light overtakes darkness. The God stretches and grows to maturity. He walks the fields and forests delighted with the abundance of life and nature. He with the help of the Goddess impel all living creatures out of hibernation, to mate and reproduce.


April 30th - also known as: Roodmas / May Eve / Walpurgis Night:

Beltane marks the courtship of the Goddess and God in a renewal of the ancient marriage of polarity. As the young God emerges into manhood, he desires the Goddess and they fall in love. They meet together in fields and forests where spurred on by the energies at work in nature, they unite and the Goddess again becomes pregnant of the God.


June 21st - also known as: The Summer Solstice:

Litha embraces the beginning of summer, and is the solstice marking the longest days of the year. The God is in his prime and the powers of nature reach their highest point. The earth is awash with ripening and growing bounty after the mating of the Goddess and God.


August 1st - also known as: August Eve / Feast of Bread / Harvest Home:

Lammas/Lughnasadh is a celebration of the bounty brought to the earth by the union of the Goddess and God. It’s the time of the first harvest when the plants of spring begin to wither and die. They drop their fruits for our use, and seeds to ensure a future harvest. So too does the God begin to die as daylight decreases and the nights grow longer. The Goddess looks on in sorrow and watches God dying, but with joy she realizes he lives on inside her, her unborn child.


September 21st) - also known as: The Autumn Equinox:

Mabon represents the completion of the harvest started at Lughnasadh. The days and nights become equal as darkness overtakes light. The God dies as the “Lord of the Harvest” and then “King of the Hunt” in a willing sacrifice. He then descends into the earth to the Underworld, there to await his renewal and rebirth of the Goddess. Nature declines and draws back its bounty in readiness for the winter and it’s time of rest. The Goddess looks at the weakening sun, and a fire burns in her belly as she feels the presence of the God. She prepares for her own journey into the Underworld, to search for him again.

And so the cycle of the ritual year begins again with Samhain in October.


Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft  - by Raven Grimassi. 

  Wicca, A guide for the Solitary Practitioner  - By Scott Cunningham


First published the 30th July 2001, 20:14:56  ©  George Knowles

Best wishes and Blessed Be


Site Contents - Links to all Pages


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About me:

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Wicca & Witchcraft


Wicca/Witchcraft /  What is Wicca What is Magick


Traditional Writings:


The Wiccan Rede Charge of the Goddess Charge of the God  /  The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) /  The Witches Chant The Witches Creed Descent of the Goddess Drawing Down the Moon The Great Rite Invocation Invocation of the Horned GodThe 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief /  The Witches Rede of Chivalry A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality


Correspondence Tables:


IncenseCandlesColours Magickal Days Stones and Gems Elements and Elementals




Traditions Part 1  -  Alexandrian Wicca /  Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) /  Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) /  Blue Star Wicca /  British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) /  Celtic Wicca /  Ceremonial Magic /  Chaos Magic /  Church and School of Wicca /  Circle Sanctuary /  Covenant of the Goddess (COG) /  Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) /  Cyber Wicca /  Dianic Wicca /  Eclectic Wicca /  Feri Wicca /


Traditions Part 2 Gardnerian Wicca /  Georgian Tradition /  Henge of Keltria /  Hereditary Witchcraft /  Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) /  Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) /  Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition /  Nordic Paganism /  Pagan Federation /  Pectic-Wita /  Seax-Wica /  Shamanism /  Solitary /  Strega /  Sylvan Tradition /  Vodoun or Voodoo /  Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /


Other things of interest:


Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology) /  Esbats & Full Moons Links to Personal Friends & Resources Wicca/Witchcraft Resources What's a spell? Circle Casting and Sacred Space  Pentagram - Pentacle Marks of a Witch The Witches Power The Witches Hat An esoteric guide to visiting London SatanismPow-wowThe Unitarian Universalist Association /  Numerology:  Part 1  Part 2  /  Part 3A history of the Malleus Maleficarum:  includes:  Pope Innocent VIII  /  The papal Bull  /   The Malleus Maleficarum  /  An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum  /  The letter of approbation  /  Johann Nider’s Formicarius  /  Jacob Sprenger  /  Heinrich Kramer  /  Stefano Infessura  /  Montague Summers  /  The Waldenses  /  The Albigenses  /  The Hussites /  The Native American Sun DanceShielding (Occult and Psychic Protection)  The History of ThanksgivingAuras  - Part 1 and Part 2 Doreen Valiente Witch” (A Book Review) /   


Sabbats and Festivals:


The Sabbats in History and Mythology /  Samhain (October 31st)  /  Yule (December 21st)  /  Imbolc (February 2nd)  /  Ostara (March 21st)  /  Beltane (April 30th)  /  Litha (June 21st)  /  Lammas/Lughnasadh (August 1st)  /  Mabon (September 21st)


Rituals contributed by Crone:


Samhain / Yule Imbolc Ostara /  Beltane Litha Lammas Mabon




Tools of a Witch  /  The Besom (Broom) /  Poppets and DollsPendulums / Cauldron Magick Mirror Gazing




Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar and Totem Animals) /  AntelopeBatsCrow Fox Frog and Toads Goat / HoneybeeKangarooLion OwlPhoenix Rabbits and HaresRaven Robin RedbreastSheep Spider SquirrelSwansUnicornWild Boar Wolf /  Serpent /  Pig /  Stag /  Horse /  Mouse /  Cat /  Rats /  Unicorn




In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar.  For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following:  Birch /  Rowan / Ash /  Alder /  Willow Hawthorn /  Oak /  Holly /  Hazel /  Vine /  Ivy /  Reed /  Elder


Sacred Sites:


Mystical Sacred Sites  -  Stonehenge /  Glastonbury Tor /  Malta - The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni /  Avebury /  Cerne Abbas - The Chalk Giant /  Ireland - Newgrange /


Rocks and Stones:


Stones - History, Myths and Lore


Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:


Apophyllite  / Amber Amethyst Aquamarine Aragonite Aventurine Black Tourmaline Bloodstone Calcite Carnelian Celestite Citrine Chrysanthemum StoneDiamond  /  Emerald / Fluorite Garnet /  Hematite Herkimer Diamond Labradorite Lapis Lazuli Malachite Moonstone Obsidian Opal Pyrite Quartz (Rock Crystal) Rose Quartz Ruby Selenite Seraphinite  /  Silver and GoldSmoky QuartzSodalite Sunstone ThundereggTree AgateZebra Marble


Wisdom and Inspiration:


Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill I Talk to the TreesAwakening The Witch in YouA Tale of the Woods I have a Dream by Martin Luther King /


Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:


Murdered by Witchcraft The Fairy Witch of Clonmel A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) /  Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife /  The Story of Jack-O-Lantern The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) /  The Two Brothers - Light and Dark


Old Masters of Academia:


Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagoras





A "Who's Who" of Witches, Pagans and other associated People

(Ancient, Past and Present)


Remembered at Samhain

(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)


Pagan Pioneers:  Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others


Abramelin the Mage /  Agrippa Aidan A KellyAlbertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” /  Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” /  Alison Harlow /   Allan Bennett - the Ven. Ananda MetteyyaAllan Kardec (Spiritism) /  Alphonsus de SpinaAmber KAnn Moura /  Anna FranklinAnodea JudithAnton Szandor LaVey /  Arnold CrowtherArthur Edward Waite /  Austin Osman SpareBalthasar Bekker /  Biddy EarlyBarbara Vickers /  Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel /  Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke Cecil Hugh WilliamsonCharles Godfrey Leland /   Charles WaltonChristopher PenczakChristina Oakley Harrington Cornelius Loos /  Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" /  Dion Fortune /  Dolores Aschroft-NowickiDonald Michael Kraig Doreen ValienteDorothy MorrisonDr. John Dee & Edward Kelly /  Dr. Leo Louis Martello /  Edain McCoy /  Edward FitchEleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” Eliphas Levi /  Ernest Thompson Seton /  Ernest Westlake /  Fiona Horne /   Frederick McLaren Adams - Feraferia Friedrich von Spee /  Francis Barrett /  Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca /  Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft /  Gwydion Pendderwen Hans HolzerHelen Duncan /   Herman Slater - Horrible Herman /  Heinrich KramerIsaac Bonewits Israel RegardieIvo Domínguez Jr. /  Jack Whiteside Parsons - Rocket Science and Magick /  James "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches /  Janet Farrar and Gavin BoneJean Bodin Jessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” / Johann Weyer  / Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" /   Johann Georg Fuchs von Dornheim  -  the “Hexenbrenner” (witch burner) /  John Belham-Payne John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" /  John Gerard /  John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred /  John Michael Greer /  John Score /  Joseph “Bearwalker” Wilson /  Joseph John Campbell /  Karl von Eckartshausen Lady Gwen Thompson - and "The Rede of the Wiccae" /   Laurie Cabot  - "the Official Witch of Salem" /  Lewis SpenceLodovico Maria Sinistrari Ludwig LavaterMadeline Montalban and the Order of the Morning Star /  Margaret Alice MurrayMargot AdlerMichael Howard and the UK "Cauldron Magazine" /  Margaret St. Clair - the “Sign of the Labrys” /  Marie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" /  Marion WeinsteinMartin Antoine Del Rio Matthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” /   Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" /  Michael A. Aquino - and The Temple of Set /  Monique WilsonMontague Summers /  Nicholas CulpeperNicholas RemyM. R. SellarsMrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" /  Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning GloryOld Dorothy Clutterbuck /  Old George PickingillOlivia Durdin-Robertson - co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis /  Paddy SladePamela Colman-SmithParacelsus /  Patricia CrowtherPatricia Monaghan /  Patricia “Trish” TelescoPaul Foster Case and the “Builders of the Adytum” mystery school /  Peter Binsfeld /  Philip HeseltonRaven GrimassiRaymond Buckland /  Reginald Scot /  Richard BaxterRobert CochraneRobert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" /  Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” /  Rossell Hope Robbins /   Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) /  Rudolf SteinerSabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" /  Scott CunninghamSelena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" /  Silver RavenwolfSir Francis Dashwood /  Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough"S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” /  Starhawk /  Stewart Farrar /  Sybil LeekTed Andrews The Mather Family - (includes:  Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) /   Thomas AdyT. Thorn CoyleVera ChapmanVictor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" /  Vivianne CrowleyWalter Brown GibsonWalter Ernest ButlerWilliam Butler YeatsZsuzsanna Budapest /  



Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete.  If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below.  Many thanks for reading  :-)



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